All eyes at Reds camp have been on the players vying for the 5th starters spot. So far the fifth starter candidates have all gotten in around 3 outings and around 6 to 9 innings. Aroldis Chapman has received most of the buzz, and rightfully so, but Matt Maloney, Justin Lehr, and Micah Owings, and long-shot Mike Leake have all been hunting that fifth spot as well.
In my opinion, Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman have definitely pitched the best. Chapman so far has pitched in 3 outings and given up only 1 run. That run was a leadoff home run in his third outing and after the leadoff homer, Chapman reacted very well going 3 scoreless innings afterward and giving up no more hits while striking out 5.
Mike Leake has also pitched very well this spring. His chances were considered slim coming into Spring Training because he was just drafted by the team in the first round about 8 months ago. So far this spring, Leake has pitched in 3 games for a total of 5 innings in which he has not given up a run. He has struck out 6 while allowing only 3 baserunners. His chances of winning the fifth starter spot are still probably slim as the team will probably want to see him pitch some in the minors first, but I really like what I see from the crafty Arizona State Sun Devil. He doesn’t throw overly hard but he has 5 to 6 pitches that he can throw and throw effectively.
As for the rest of the guys, Maloney has been up and down; Lehr has struggled, and Owings has done well and could be the guy if the team thinks both Leake and Chapman could benefit from some time in the minors, but at some point, especially if the club is in contention, which I think they can be, you will see Leake and Chapman in the majors.
Also getting interesting this spring is the center field job and left field . Chris Dickerson complained earlier in the Spring that he ought to be contending for the center field job. So far he has backed up that talk with strong Spring Training numbers batting .435 so far. Drew Stubbs who is admittedly a slow starter, started slow but in his last 3 games he is 6-9 with a homer. Stubbs came in as the favorite, and still is but Dickerson is definitely opening some eyes can earning some regular season playing time (some in center and some probably as a platoon with Jonny Gomes). Jonny Gomes has faired well so far this spring and it looks as if he has a hold on being the opening day starter in left. He will probably platoon with a left handed hitter like Dickerson or Laynce Nix.
Spring Training has been interesting so far and will get even more important as the Reds move into the final 2-3 weeks before they head north to the Queen City.
Go Reds!! Time to contend!!
The 2010 season is upon us as there are 4 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report. I already previewed the NL Central where I predicted:
The Cardinals have Pujols and Holliday, and Carpenter and Wainwright as both top tier pitching and hitting duos, and they are too talented not to win the central. Here’s how everything else will shake out I believe.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
Halladay and Hamels will combine to win around 35 games by themselves and the Phils also feature one of the best lineups in baseball from top to bottom. They will overpower the rest of this otherwise average division.
2. New York Mets-Wild Card
At least this season, the Mets won’t collapse down the stretch and come in second. They simply won’t be able to keep up from the Phils. I think David Wright’s power numbers will rebound and Jason Bay and Johan Santana give the Mets a shot at the wild card. I think they get it.
3. Florida Marlins
Josh Johnson is quietly developing into one of the best unknown pitchers in baseball. Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, and Chris Coghlan will give them a solid lineup, but I think inconsitency will plague them, and too many holes will be exposed for them to win the division.
4. Atlanta Braves
The Braves and Frank Wren baffled me this offseason with some of their moves. Trading Javier Vazquez for an average outfielder who will only block Jason Heyward’s path to the majors makes no sense to me, even taking money into account. Troy Glaus is not the answer to their hole at first base. However the Braves still have some solid starters with Hudson, Hanson, and the often overlooked Jair Jurrjens.
5. Washington Nationals
There is only one reason to care about the Nats this season: Steven Strasburg. How will he do?
1. San Francisco Giants
I think this will be a suprisingly really good team this year. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are both all-stars. A quick glance at the Giants lineup will raise the question can they hit enough but I believe that as a group Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, and Mark DeRosa etc will combine to create an offense which will score enough runs to support their pitchers
2. Colorado Rockies
The NL West is really a toss up between the Giants and Rockies I think. The Rockies have a lot of good young players. Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de la Rosa have learned how to pitch in Colorado and pitch very well.Watch out for Ian Stewart this season. Hit BA is less than spectacular but dont be suprised to see 32-35 homers from him this season.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Not as good as people may think. Billingsley, Kuroda, Kershaw, Padilla is a very average top 4 pitchers in the rotation.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
Talent at some positions but too many holes from top to bottom. Webb is even a question mark this year after a lost 2009 campaign.
5. San Diego Padres
Hey, they’ll beat the Nationals. But a lineup with Nick Hundley, Chase Headley, Will Venable, and David Eckstein is hard to believe in!
The NL Central has no sure fire winner in 2010. However, the Cardinals appear to be the most talented team followed by the Brewers. The Reds though have potential to play themselves into contention as well.
Here is how I see the division shaking out.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
Let’s be honest. The Pirates are the consensus pick for last. Yes they have a budding all star in Andrew McCutchen who had a great rookie season last year, but they have a rotation that features Ross Ohenlendorf and Cub reject Kevin Hart.
That is simply not good enough to contend. Pedro Alvarez, the team’s top prospect, will probably get some time to play at third this season, so the two interesting things for this team will be monitoring the development of future studs Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez.
5. Houston Astros
The Astros sill have some very good players on their team. Having been perennial contendors over the last 5-6 years, the team still has the likes of ace Roy Oswalt, sweet-swinging Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee. Hunter Pence will also look to take another step forward in 2010. The ‘Stros will be able to hit but in looking at their roster from top to bottom, they simply have too many holes to compete.
Roy Oswalt could be a blue chip summer trading piece if the team is out of contention and he could bring back good prospects in return.
4. Chicago Cubs
Cubs fans think that the departure of Milton Bradley will be a form of addition by subtraction, and it will. However that will not simply return there team to 2008 form.
They have not adjusted to the loss of Rich Harden, and with Ted Lilly out atleast a month, there rotation is set to start out Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, and who knows who else.
The back end of that rotation is simply not up to standards and Lou Piniella will have his work cut out for him closing out games as well. Carlos Marmol was atrocious last year with his control. Too many holes=not enough wins.
3. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have perhaps the most potential in the division, but I believe they will still be a year away from putting everything together. However, I do think this is a year where the Reds will hang around and make some noise in the division. The signing of Cuban-phenom has energized the Reds base and at Spring Training all eyes will be glued on the Cuban lefty. Whether he starts in the majors or not, the Reds just may not be able to click totally this year. The loss of Edinson Volquez until mid-summer at the earliest hurts, but the Reds have plenty of young pitchers waiting in the wings. Contending or not, I think the Reds will unload Harang before 2011 so this is his last hoorah in a Reds uniform. That will allow the Reds to unload 12 million of payroll and make room for them to make key additions to what should be a solid team down the road. The Reds front office is unified in the direction is wants to go, and Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Cueto, Bailey, and Chapman give them the horses to get there.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
Braun and Fielder. Braun and Fielder. Braun and Fielder. Alcides Escobar and Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers have a great mix of established stars and young athletes coming up through the system. They get the nod for the two spot because they just simply have fewer noticable holes than the Reds or Cubs. Casey McGeehee another Cub reject will look to build on his strong rookie season, and Ricky Weeks is still looking to breakout. I think he will, and Gallardo will be a star, leading to a 2nd place National League Central finish.
1. Champion-St. Louis Cardinals
A full year with Matt Holliday and another year with one of the best hitters ever will equal a NL Central title for the Cards in 2010. Also the Cards have one of the best one two punches on the mound in baseball if both Wainwright and Carpenter stay healthy. They were both stellar last year down the stretch. Expect youngster Colby Rasmus to hit lefties better than he did last season and be a strong complement in the lineup to the power of Holliday and Pujols. Too much offense and a great rotation with the best pitching coach in the game will help the Cards overpower the rest of the NL Central.
The Reds have some pretty good fantasy players this year, headlined by Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and then Jay Bruce.
Also can guys like Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs emerge to be strong fantasy players? I think so.
Here’s a quick look at what I think the numbers of the currents Reds would look like if the team’s roster remains the same. I’m using the 5 statistical categories for most fantasy leagues (AVG, RUN, HR, RBI, SB)
C- Ramon Hernandez 130 games .267 BA 16 HRs 44 runs 63 RBI 1 steal
C- Ryan Hanigan 45 games .271 BA 4 HRs 15 runs 15 RBI 0 steals
1B- Joey Votto 145 games .317 BA 28 HRs 81 runs 108 RBI 9 steals
2B- Brandon Phillips 155 games .276 BA 23 HRs 84 runs 96 RBI 25 steals
3B- Scott Rolen 130 games .288 BA 15 HRs 63 runs 67 RBI 4 steals
SS-Orlando Cabrera- 154 games .281 BA 14 HR 78 Runs 60 RBI 16 steals
SS- Paul Janish 125 games .240 BA 9 HRs 50 runs 38 RBI 4 steals
RF- Jay Bruce 155 games .282 BA 31 HRs 72 runs 88 RBI 8 steals
CF- Drew Stubbs 141 games .260 BA 9 HRs 85 runs 41 RBI 33 steals
LF- Chris Heisey 120 games .278 BA 14 HRs 58 runs 48 RBI 15 steals
LF- Chris Dickerson- 70 games .262 BA 7 HRs 38 runs 31 RBI 10 steals
The left field spot can be hard to predict. I honestly like Chris Heisey to beat out Chris Dickerson and Laynce Nix who I see as the other two primary contendors. Heisey has great potential and has hit at every level in the minors and could be a nice pickup mid season off the waiver wire for some owners in deep leagues.
Less than a week until Spring Training!! Go Reds
No one really knows whether the Reds are buyers or sellers yet, but we are under the 72 hour mark until the trade deadline. The Reds main trade bait would be Harang, Arroyo, and Weathers or Rhodes in the bullpen.
The Reds need to keep the bullpen intact as that has been the major strength of the Reds club. Rhodes is sitting on a comfortable 2.08 era and Weathers on a 3.15 era (by the way, Paul Janish has a 49.50 era in his two relief appearances this year).
Arroyo is still a nice pitcher for anyones rotation and because of the nature of how he throws, he will be able to pitch effectively for many years to come. His fastball is complemented by a variety of off speed breaking balls. Harang on the other hand is a shadow of the 16 win pitcher he was 3 and 4 years ago. His fastball velocity is down from 93-94 mph to 89-90 miles per hour. His leg drive is also noticably weaker than it was when he was younger in his career. Since he is no longer able to throw the ball by people, he has to be able to locate his pitches better which he has often struggled with.
However Aaron Harang would still be good for a contending club and could serve as a solid third or forth starter. The Reds could trade Harang and still make an improvement to the club this year.
A good fit for Harang would be the New York Yankees who need starting pitching badly (esp. with Chien-Ming Wang out for the year).
As opposed to trading Harang for a variety of single A prospects, I think it would be smarter for Walt Jocketty to try and get one or two players in AAA who are almost ready for the major leagues. Ian Kennedy who is pitching for the Yankees AAA team and has made a few major league starts would be that tyle of player, a guy who could play this year if need be.
The Reds have explored adding Toronto Blue Jay Scott Rolen. Rolen has had a resurgence this year after battling injuries since leaving the St. Louis Cardinals. He has batted around .300 for most this year and has shown increased pop in his bat.
A Rolen package would also probably include Edwin Encarnacion but beyond that it is not known what else would be involved.
Also another package has been rumored to have been talked about with the Yankees.
Neither the Reds nor the Yankees have said if there is any truth to the rumor but the Yankees have discussed aquiring David Weathers and Aaron Harang for youngster Phillip Hughes. It seems odd that the Yankees would consider giving up their great young prospect Hughes which is why I’m unsure if this rumor has any truth to it.
The Reds are on their longest homestand of the year. The Reds really need to hang an 8-2 or better record if they are going to continue to climb back in the NL Central race that is staying tight. Go Reds!!!
It seems as if Bud Selig and Major League Baseballl might finally be coming to their senses. Sportscenter reported this morning that Bud Selig might finally be nearing a decision to reinstate Pete Rose.
It seems to me that Pete Rose represents the biggest folly in baseball history. There has never been anyone play the game harder than Pete Rose. No one has ever done more with lesser talent. He was a winner. He demanded 100% from himself and in turn demanded it of everyone else around him. If a runner needed to be moved over, he got him over. Runner on third less that 2 outs; that run got in. The Big Red Machine could be renamed the Pete Rose Machine.
He and Sparky Anderson accepted nothing less than the best.
Pete Rose never juiced up, never took HGH, never took a play off, never cheated the game he loved so much. He played the game clean and came out as baseball’s best hitter ever.
However, Pete Rose has served a 20 year ban. A 20 year sentence for betting on baseball. Let me be clear! Betting on the game was wrong. But to ban him and take him away from the game he gave so much to for 20 years, is an outrage. It is a disaster. He played the game 100% clean yet served a 20 year ban when steroid users are only getting a slap on the wrist 50 game suspension.
Commisioner Selig, think about this situation. Pete Rose deserves a front and center plaque in baseball’s hall of fame.
Pete Rose gave baseball and its fans years of excitment and dedication, and baseball has given him nothing back. Administering such a harsh punishment to Pete Rose while giving steroid users little more than a slap on the wrist ought to be seen as a dark spot in baseball’s history.
He taught so many of us how to play the game and was a role model for so many as he was a self made player. Rose gave anything to win. He like others is human and made a mistake, but he gave his life for baseball and would have never cheated the game like some players today.
Mr. Selig, you have a chance to right this disaster and take a stand. To me and many other baseball fans: PETE ROSE IS BASEBALL!!! Let’s get him in the hall of fame!!
Joey Votto is back and still swinging. Votto hardly missed a beat when he came back after his month layoff. Votto is collected 18 hits over his last 10 games.
Votto’s success has me comparing him to Big Red Machine great Tony Perez. He and Perez spray the ball all over the field, banging the ball off the wall. Neither were “home run hitters” but they are such good hitters they still hit the ball out of the ballpark. Why is no one talking about Votto as an ALL STAR SNUB. I know he was hurt but he is batting .364!! How can you ignore that from a guy whether he has played 2 months or 3 months.
Also Reds fans: Take a hint. Lay off Dusty Baker. A recent commenter off a reds.com news release said the following:
“Dusty Baker is clueless and has to go! I feel better now that I’ve
finally said it. I’ve said before on here that we should only pitch to
Pujols if we are up 5 runs or down 5 runs. Otherwise he should be
walked every time he steps to the plate. Some reasons Baker must go: 1.
Continuing to pitch to Pujols 2. Using a DH for Owings rather than any
one of our position players who are hitting under .240 3. Batting
Taveras at lead off 4. Letting Taveras play at all 4. Pitching Weathers
against Pujols…duh 5. An entire team that lacks fundamentals
(bunting, moving runners, patience at the plate, etc…) 6. Thinking
that Corey Patterson had major league talent 7. Playing Hernandez over
Hannigan 8. Playing Hairston over Janish 9. Not demanding that we keep
Keppinger 10. Pitching to Pujols yet again…. arrgghhhhh!!!!“
I cannot disagree with the first reason, but Albert Pujols is the best hitter ever in my opinion. As far as the second reason, everytime a pinch hitter comes into the game, he is not going to get a hit and when that player does get out Dusty Baker is not to blame! Willie Taveras ought to bat first or second. He is just in a slump let him get out of it.
For the fourth reason, this commenter is just ridiculous, Taveras might be the fastest person in the game. As for the commenters second number four (impressive) NO ONE has good numbers against Pujols. No matter who you bring in, Pujols still has a great chance getting a hit.
Fifth, the team is getting better defensively and is near the top in the NL in sacrificesSixth, Baker was not the idiot who signed Corey Patterson, after all he does have big league talent (or used to) as he was once another top Cubs prospect. Seventh, both are great talents and deserve to play (no argument there).
Hairston over Janish?? Come on Janish bobbled the ball that loaded the bases before Pujols hit the grand slam. That would have been the third out. Jeff Keppinger is an average utility man . And you have to pitch to Pujols with the bases loaded.
Reds fans need to chill. Dusty is not the one out there not hitting. That is on the players. The Reds need to add another bat and with more talent, Baker can lead any team to the playoffs.
Ill give Walt Jocketty a hint on a bat to add. (see below). GO REDLEGS!!